A lively cultural week featuring the Island's must-see highlights and traditional homestays
Beginning and ending in the vibrant city of Havana, this trip visits four UNESCO World Heritage Sites in one week. The Vinales Valley, Old Havana and the colourful colonial towns of Cienfuegos and Trinidad. Along the way discover Cuba's fascinating history, learn how to dance Cuban salsa like a local and have a go at making the perfect mojito!
All breakfasts, 3 lunches and 3 dinners included. Cuba is not renowned for its culinary excellence and some ingredients are just not possible to get hold of (due in no small part to the long trade embargo implemented by the US). As such, flavours tend to be relatively simple, with most mealtimes consisting of meat or fish accompanied by rice and salad/vegetables. Seafood is widely available on the coast, including cheap and abundant lobster! Vegetarians will probably find they have the most limited choice. Snack food is not freely available in Cuba so you may wish to consider taking some with you. Paladares are likely to be a highlight of any visit to Cuba - they are one of the few types of private enterprise allowed (although still heavily regulated), where families or entrepreneurs are allowed to set up a restaurant. The atmosphere this creates and opportunity to integrate with local Cubans will no doubt enhance your stay! We recommend that you allow CUC 30 pp per day for the lunches and evening meals on the days where food is not included. Drinking water will be provided on the coach. Please bring your own refillable water bottles.
The group flight arrives in the afternoon and we transfer to our hotel in the Miramar district of Havana. *Standard Hotel*
Today we travel to Vinales Valley, in the west of Cuba. Famous for its rolling tobacco plantations and collection of limestone karsts dotted along the valley, it's not hard to see why Vinales was awarded UNESCO World Heritage site status. Joined by a local resident we walk through the 'Valley of Silence' to soak up rural Cuban life as farmers tend to their crops using traditional farming methods. We'll also visit a tobacco farm to learn about one of the island's most famous exports and meet with a local tobacco farmer to help understand the growing process. After checking into our overnight accommodation in Casa Particulares, we visit an organic farm in the hills of Viñales for a sunset dinner overlooking the valley. *Casas Particulares *
This morning we set off on a long drive eastward to Cienfuegos. We stop for lunch at the Bay of Pigs at a small beachfront restaurant with a large Cuban welcome. The speciality here is fresh fish caught by local fisherman just off the coast. Time permitting, you can enjoy a refreshing dip in the sea. This region of the Zapata Peninsula is a National Park and swamp providing a habitat for some of the most important bird species in Cuba. We are joined by a local nature expert who will introduce us to the natural landscape and characteristics of the area. We will also have some time to explore the Giron Museum, which exhibits items from the failed invasion by CIA-backed Cuban Americans. Afterwards we will carry on our transfer to Cienfuegos. The city of Cienfuegos is full of architectural delights and Cuban spirit, with a beautiful main square and restored buildings. On arrival we check into our casas for the night. There are some great paladares in town and the 'malecon' is usually a lively place to soak up the atmosphere with locals. Today's travel time is approx. 7 hours. *Casas Particulares*
This morning we will start by having a city tour on Bici Taxis. One of the best ways to get around is by Bici Taxi, a fun tour using Cuba’s eco-friendly and typical city transport. Each Bici Taxi can accommodate two people and will be pedalled by a local resident (most of whom like to introduce their guests to reggaeton music!) The Bici Taxi tour is a great time to talk to local Cienfuegos residents and have a go at practising your Spanish. Afterwards we depart Cienfuegos and drive down the coast to Trinidad, stopping at Rancho La Vega farm en route. During our visit we will have time to enjoy some fruit drinks or coffees. Trinidad has been a UNESCO World Heritage site since 1988 and is perhaps the best-preserved colonial town on the island. Exploring Trinidad can feel like entering a time warp, its colourful, cobbled streets and horse drawn transportation whisking us back. There are many interesting museums housed in old colonial buildings and music drifts through the streets and plazas, bringing the town to life. We have a walking tour with a local resident who will give us an insider perspective of what it’s like to live in Trinidad, before visiting the Santander Family and their artisan pottery workshop. There will be the opportunity to have a go under the direction of this skilled Cuban family. We'll stay overnight in charming Casa Particulares, private Bed and Breakfast accommodation in local Cuban houses. Our dinner this evening will be at a private paladar where a local collective of musicians will perform interpretations of classic Cuban trova songs. This is sure to be a lively evening and a wonderful opportunity to enjoy Cuban music with its distinct rhythms. *Casas Particulares *
Today we visit Playa Ancon and enjoy some time on the beach. It is a great place to swim or you can simply just dip your toes and relax. Afterwards we have an authentic Cuban lunch prepared for us. Back in Trinidad we meet a Cuban barman who is an expert at making the perfect mojito! They will give a mojito making lesson and everyone in the group will have a go at mixing their own in the authentic Cuban way. Afterwards we’ll take part in a salsa class with Cuban dance partners. There will be one dance partner for each member of the group, to assist with teaching the correct salsa moves. Trinidad is known for its nightlife, so after we’ve learnt the basics of salsa we’ll go to the town’s ‘Casa de la Trova’ live music venue to listen to local musicians playing authentic Cuban music. This venue is always lively and sociable, with plenty of local Cuban’s keen to let us practice our dancing with them! *Casa Particulares*
After breakfast we will visit a traditional embroidery project in Trinidad which showcases traditional embroidery project in Trinidad. As we have a long transfer today, we will bring packed lunches with us from the hotel. Leaving Trinidad we head to Manaca Iznaga, where we learn about the sugar growing history surrounding the Valle de los Ingenios, a hugely important industry for Cuba during the 18th and 19th centuries Our next stop is Santa Clara, the site of the last battle of the Cuban Revolution in December 1958, just before Fidel Castro took Havana. Che Guevara and his troops ambushed an armoured train carrying arms to Santiago de Cuba and this was a major turning point in the Revolution. We visit the Mausoleum of Che Guevara and his comrades who died in Bolivia before driving back to Havana for dinner at a private paladar. Today's travel time is approx. 5 hours *Standard Hotel*
This morning we set off for a walking tour of old and new Havana, Cuba's capital and the largest city in the Caribbean. Havana is a busy, bustling, energetic capital. The area of Old Havana is often described as a living museum, with its marvellous monuments, cathedrals and palaces. This is the finest surviving Spanish colonial complex in the Americas. Preserved by a combination of minimal war damage, post-revolution restoration work and the millions of dollars invested since it was declared a UNESCO World Heritage site in 1982. During our tour we visit a ration store, food market and artisan market. There is no better way to see Havana than by classic car, and so in the early evening we continue our tour of the capital in style, travelling in immaculately looked after classic cars in vibrant colours. Visiting both the old and new areas of the city, we discover the distinct neighbourhoods of the capital, stopping at points of interest for explanations and stories. Feel free to ask questions about why the streets of Cuba are filled with classic American cars manufactured in the 1950’s and how on earth the owners manage to maintain them! *Standard Hotel*
This morning is free to relax or do some last-minute sightseeing in Havana's old town before those on group flights transfer to the airport in the afternoon.
* All breakfasts, 3 lunches, 3 dinners * All accommodation * All transport and listed activities * Tour leader throughout * Flights from London (if booking incl. flights) * Arrival and departure transfers (if booking incl. group flights) * Tourist card visa for UK residents
A great week - lots of different aspects of Cuba, really enjoyable, very informative and a lot of fun. There is a lot of travel involved however it gave us all a good insight into some of the life in a different and fascinating country. Very hospitable hosts in the Casals Particulares.
Hugely enjoyed this tour..... truly was an adventure. We were introduced to an extraordinary peoples and culture....our guide was exemplary. I luved every moment and and am extremely keen to return. 'The Taste of Cuba' filled every moment with fascination and surprise. Everywhere very comfortable and safe but with a sense of how challenging it is for the locals...
A fantastic introduction to Cuba, its culture, history, music, dancing (and cocktails!)
A fantastic glimpse of Cuba with an excellent mix of sightseeing, music, free-time to further explore, and fun activities.
The title of this trip is exactly what it suggests. It offers a real taste of Cuba and the itinerary, although packed, is perfect. Not rushing from place to place and plenty of free time to explore by yourself.
superb tour with what must be the best 'guide' we have ever had Rayselis, her knowledge, sense of commitment and humour made the tour more wonderful than it was.
This tour, A Taste of Cuba, did what it said on the tin. It provided an introduction to the country, mainly the western part and La Havana.
I have been all over the world on many trips over the last 40 years or so but I think this was one of the very best I have been on. Cuba is a fascinating country and the Exodus itinerary really showed it off to it's best considering we had just 8 days on the island. The accommodation ranged from Comfortable to Amazing, the food, (despite what most people said before we went) was more than plentiful and of good quality, in fact we were fed too much!
The title of the trip totally sums it up: every experience you could want from this country is either included in the tour or available to add on. Cigar-rolling, mojito-making (and drinking!), salsa dancing, horse riding, Caribbean snorkelling, 1950s Caddie-driving... it's all here - and then some. Yes, the pace is full on - but hey, isn't that what a holiday experience is all about?
I'm really pleased I got to see Cuba before it changes too much. While you can see the commercialism is starting to creep in, it still feels like it has been stuck in a time warp. It is an interesting place, though I have to say that for me Havana was by far my favourite. It is worth seeing it before it changes too much, but you can also see some incredible buildings that are ripe for development.
You will have the option to book your own flights independently with the operator.
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